Papal site defaced
Obscene message written on historic monument

by Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Aug 01/97) - There's someone out there who needs to get a life.

These were the thoughts expressed by more than a few Fort Simpson residents over the past week after the Papal site was defaced.

Sometime last week, persons scrawled vulgar profanities across the front of the site where Pope John Paul II gave a mass 10 years ago this September.

With paint provided by the Liidli Koe First Nation, the site was cleaned up over the weekend.

Liidli Koe sub-chief Robert Hardisty, who said he was disgusted when he heard of the incident, said it unfortunately didn't surprise him. In both 1984 and 1987, Hardisty served on the organizing committee for the papal visit to Fort Simpson.

"I'd say its probably some angry little kids who need some help and programs to help them channel this energy in a positive way," he said. "Instead of cuts to youth programming, we need more. Whoever is responsible should come in and talk to me."

He also said there is no maintenance funding for the site currently available.

The incident first came to light Thursday when the president of the local historical society took a group of Belgian tourists to the site.

"Some very vulgar graffiti was written on the Papal Teepee and without question, the foul words are recorded on their photos and camcorder images," Stephen Rowan said in a letter to the Drum this week. "Is this a message we want to send out?"